J. Middleton Murry

J. Middleton Murry books and biography

John Middleton Murry

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John Middleton Murry (August 6, 1889 – March 12, 1957), was an English writer.

A prominent critic, Murry is best remembered for his association with Katherine Mansfield, whom he married, as her second husband, in 1918. Following her death, he edited her work. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, along with the writer Joyce Cary, a life long friend.



Murry gave his philosophy its fullest expression in his writings on Keats and Shakespeare and in an ambitiously titled volume, God: An Introduction to the Science of Metabiology. There, picking up certain concepts from his acquaintance George Santayana, Murry describes the project of Romanticism as one of inner exploration: "To discover that within myself which I *must obey, to gain some awareness of the law which operates in the organic world of the internal world, to feel this internal world as an organic whole working out its own destiny according to some secret vital principle, to know which acts and utterances are a liberation from obstacles and an accession of strength, to acknowledge secret loyalties which one cannot deny without impoverishment and starvation -- this is to possess one's soul indeed, and it is not easy either to do or to explain."[1]

The upshot of this discovery results in the highest degree of ethical awareness, "an immediate knowledge of what I am and may not do."[2] The awareness of one being "really alone" in the universe, [3] as he put it, marks the final point of discovery which is followed by the upward ascent to spiritual life.

Murry vividly narrates this exploration as a spiritual conversion -- what he describes as a "desolation" followed by "illumination" -- after the death of Katherine Mansfield (who had moved to Gurdjieffs Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man where she died).


From 1911 to 1913, Murry was editor of the poetry magazine Rhythm.[4] The Blue Review was a successor.

In 1919, Murry became the editor of the Athenaeum, a literary review that featured work by T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, and other members of the Bloomsbury Group. In 1923 he became the founding editor of the influential periodical, The Adelphi (and later The New Adelphi). He was extraordinarily prolific, producing more than 60 books and thousands of essays and reviews on literature, social issues, politics, and religion during his lifetime.


He was an outspoken pacifist, writing The Necessity of Pacifism (1937).


Murry was married four times. With his second wife, Violet Le Maistre, he had a son, John Middleton Murry, Jr., who became a writer under the names of Colin Murry and Richard Cowper.

Selected Works

  • Fyodor Dostoevsky: A Critical Study (1916)
  • The Problem of Style (1922)
  • Keats and Shakespeare (1925)
  • Journal of Katherine Mansfield (1927) editor
  • The Letters of Katherine Mansfield (1928) editor
  • God: An Introduction to the Science of Metabiology (1929)
  • Son of Woman: The Story of D. H. Lawrence (1931)
  • Reminiscences of D.H. Lawrence (1933)
  • William Blake (1933)
  • Between Two Worlds (1935) (autobiography)
  • Community Farm (1952)
  • Love, Freedom and Society (1957)


  • F. A. Lea, The Life of John Middleton Murry (1959)
  • E. G. Griffin (1968)
  • John Carswell (1978), Lives and Letters: A. R. Orage, Katherine Mansfield, Beatrice Hastings, John Middleton Murry, S. S. Koteliansky, 1906-1957


  1. ^ God, p. 47)
  2. ^ God, p. 49
  3. ^ God, p. 26
  4. ^ (Joy Grant, Harold Monro & the Poetry Bookshop (1967), p.34. It was infused with defiance and optimism.[...] Poetically it leaned towards modernity, printing free verse by Katherine Mansfield [...]. (Text available online.)

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Jesus Man Of Genius

By J. Middleton Murry

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